Tester Urges Perdue to Quickly Finalize Agreement Allowing Yellowstone River Access at Fort Keogh

Senator: “Accept this proposal as soon as possible, and allow responsible recreation on the Yellowstone River”

Following Governor Steve Bullock’s announcement that the State of Montana and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached an agreement to allow the public to access the Yellowstone River at Fort Keogh in Miles City, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly give the decision the final go-ahead.

In a letter, Tester wrote that both Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and USDA have worked hard to craft an agreement will allow public recreational access to the Yellowstone River, and that it should be implemented without delay so Montanans can again access the river. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester has been a longtime advocate for Fort Keogh, and has repeatedly secured full funding for the facility despite attempts by the Trump Administration to close it.

“For decades, [Agricultural Research Service] allowed the public to access a boat launch site on the Yellowstone River at its expansive research facility near Miles City, Montana,” Tester wrote. “…In Montana, outdoor access is a way of life, and the federal government should work to support that objective instead of creating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.”

Montanans had long used a public access point at Fort Keogh facility to access hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities on the Lower Yellowstone River, but due to vandalism on the property and subsequent bureaucratic delays around reopening the site, public access at the site has been closed since 2013.

Tester has been fighting the decision ever since, including authoring legislative text to allow access at Agricultural Research Service sites that passed the Senate by a wide margin in 2019.

“I urge you to accept the Fort Keogh agreement as soon as possible,” Tester continued. “This proposal will allow folks to responsibly enjoy the Yellowstone River, and puts common sense above bureaucracy.”

Tester’s letter is available HERE.